Nepal

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Wednesday, 13 May 2015.   A further major earthquake of magnitude 7.3 struck on 12 May 2015, followed by a number of aftershocks of magnitude 5 and above. The epicentre was located 76km north-east of Kathmandu in the Dolakha District near Mount Everest. Australians in the affected areas should follow the advice of local authorities (See Additional information). We continue to advise Australians to reconsider their need to travel to Nepal at this time while relief and recovery efforts are underway.

Nepal overall

Summary

  • A further major earthquake of magnitude 7.3 struck on 12 May 2015, followed by a number of aftershocks of magnitude 5 and above. The epicentre was located 76km north-east of Kathmandu in the Dolakha District near Mount Everest.
  • On 25 April a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal. The epicentre was 80 kms west of Kathmandu. Extensive damage occurred to buildings, including in Kathmandu and Pokhara, and avalanches occurred in the Macchaputre and Everest regions. There is ongoing disruption to telecommunications, transport, essential services and infrastructure.
  • We advise Australians to reconsider their need to travel to Nepal while relief and recovery efforts are underway. Aftershocks may continue for weeks, creating a risk of further building collapses and avalanches.
  • Australians in Nepal in need of consular assistance may contact the Australian Embassy in Kathmandu on +977 1 437 1678 or the Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on (+61 2) 6261 3305.
  • If you are unable to obtain safe air transport to Kathmandu, you should find a safe place to shelter, stay in a group, remain in contact with family or friends and contact the Embassy in Kathmandu.
  • A number of protests have occurred following the 25 April earthquake. Australians are reminded to avoid all large crowds, demonstrations and protests, as they may become violent without warning.
  • Australians wishing to support the recovery in Nepal are urged to do so by donating to aid organisations with a presence in Nepal and not considering travelling to Nepal. These organisations are best-placed to effectively deliver assistance on the ground in what are challenging and variable circumstances.
  • Australians are strongly encouraged not to consider surrogacy in Nepal until robust local legal arrangements are in place. See Laws.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
    • organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy
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Entry and exit

Australian citizens are required to obtain a visa for Nepal. Tourist visas are available on arrival. Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. You should contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Nepal for the most up to date information.

You should ensure you have the correct, current visa at all times, otherwise you may be fined, jailed, deported and/or banned from re-entering Nepal. The Australian Embassy cannot arrange visas, or work or residence permits. The Embassy can provide a list of local lawyers if you have overstayed or breached your visa conditions.

If your passport is lost or stolen in Nepal, you will need to obtain a transfer of visa to your new passport before departing the country. This can be done by presenting a police report, two current passport size photographs and a letter from the Australian Embassy advising of your lost or stolen passport to Nepal’s Department of Immigration.

Australian citizens travelling to India from Nepal should note that the Indian Government has made changes to tourist visa regulations that may affect Australian travellers. Visit the Indian Government Ministry of Home Affairs website or contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of India for the most up-to-date information.

Make sure your passport has at least six months validity, and carry several recent passport photos with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

Civil unrest/Political tension

Political protests and demonstrations occur regularly and can become violent without warning. A number of protests have occurred following the 25 April earthquake. On 28 April, a protest involving riot police took place at a bus station on the outskirts of Kathmandu. Australians in Nepal should avoid all protests, demonstrations and large crowds. If a demonstration or political rally occurs, you should avoid the area, minimise your movements and exercise a high degree of caution. Curfews may be enforced at short notice. You should pay close attention to your security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources for possible new security risks.

A number of violent incidents, including bomb attacks, have occurred at crowded locations and on public transport throughout the country. In 2013 an explosion at a Government office in the Sarlahi district near the border with India, injured 12 people.

Illegal roadblocks and enforced national or local bandhs (strikes) can occur without notice and continue for lengthy periods. At these times, businesses close and vehicles are not allowed on the roads. Access to the airport can be disrupted and taxis are not usually available. Even when possible, travel (including by taxi) can be dangerous as bandh organisers may forcibly stop vehicles. Travel services, including to trekking areas and outside of Kathmandu Valley, may also be affected.

During bandhs, you should minimise your movements and exercise a high degree of caution. You should also ensure that you have adequate supplies of essentials, including water, food, batteries, cash and medications.

Threats have been made against Christian organisations in Nepal, including schools. A bomb exploded in the Assumption Church in Kathmandu in May 2009. In 2013 Muslim owned houses were burnt in the far east of the country during community unrest.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Worldwide bulletin

Crime

Crimes against foreigners, such as assault and theft, occur in Nepal. There have been armed robberies and assaults (including sexual assaults) on tourists. Women, in particular, should not travel alone, especially at night.

Petty theft (including pickpocketing and bag snatching) is common, especially at tourist sites, airports, on buses and in hotel rooms. There have been reports of foreigners being injured in the course of these incidents, in particular when bags are pulled from pedestrians by assailants on motorbikes. There has been an increase in crime in Thamel, the main tourist district of Kathmandu.

There have been occasional reports of trekkers being robbed or assaulted. You should never trek alone. Tourists visiting the popular sites of Chitwan and Bardiya National Parks have occasionally been victims of crimes such as theft and robbery.

Attempts by criminals to defraud tourists, including through charities, should be reported to local police immediately. Demands that tourists carry illegal goods should also be reported.

Victims of crime can call the Tourist Police in Kathmandu on 01 470 0750 or the Tourist Police headquarters on 01 424 7041.

Money and valuables

The Government of Nepal has banned the import, export and use of 500 and 1,000 Indian rupee notes in Nepal. You should ensure you are not carrying these notes on arrival in Nepal as they will be confiscated and you may be fined.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

Review the general advice to Australian travellers for further information on being safe and prepared abroad.

Local travel

Destructive earthquake and aftershocks

A further major earthquake of magnitude 7.3 struck on 12 May 2015, followed by a number of aftershocks of magnitude 5 and above. The epicentre was located 76km north-east of Kathmandu in the Dolakha District.

On 25 April 2015, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal. The epicentre was 80 kms west of Kathmandu. Extensive damage occurred to buildings, including in Kathmandu and Pokhara, and avalanches occured in the Macchaputre and Everest regions. There is ongoing disruption to telecommunications, transport, essential services and infrastructure.

We advise Australians to reconsider their need to travel to Nepal while relief and recovery efforts are underway. Aftershocks may continue for weeks, creating a risk of further building collapses and avalanches. There are shortages of food, water and accommodation in some locations.

Australians wishing to support the recovery in Nepal are urged to do so by donating to aid organisations with a presence in Nepal and not to consider travelling to Nepal. These organisations are best-placed to effectively deliver assistance on the ground in what are challenging and variable circumstances.

Other local travel information

Telecommunications facilities in Nepal are limited and can be unreliable. Mobile phone services may be suspended without notice.

Electricity supplies are unreliable and there is frequent load-shedding during the winter months and in the lead up to the monsoon. Shortages of essential supplies (including food, water, fuel, gas and kerosene) can occur with limited notice. Businesses, including hotels and guesthouses, can be affected.

Road Travel

Road travel can be disrupted due to demonstrations and strikes (bandhs), often called at short notice.

Taxi drivers frequently refuse to use meters and charge foreigners rates well above the usual meter cost. Refusal to pay has been met with threats against the customer. Fuel shortages can reduce the availability of local taxis and other forms of transport.

Road travel is dangerous at night, particularly in rural areas. Travel on public buses and vans, which are generally overcrowded and poorly maintained, is dangerous. There are frequent accidents with multiple fatalities. One Australian was killed and four others injured in a bus crash in 2013. Roads are crowded and not well maintained. Driving standards are poor and traffic laws are often not adhered to. For safety and security reasons, travel between cities after dark should be avoided.

In the event of an accident, foreigners may be assumed to be at fault and expected to make financial restitution to all other parties. Car accidents resulting in injuries often lead to confrontations, including violence against drivers and road closures. For further advice, see our road travel page.

Flights

In recent years, a number of small aircraft travelling domestically have crashed, with some accidents causing multiple fatalities, including international travellers. See Airline safety

Inclement weather conditions may result in flight delays and cancellations. Tourists have been stranded for up to 10 days in locations such as Lukla, the start of treks in the Everest region.

Trekking and Tours

Trekking can be dangerous. If you choose to trek in Nepal, you should only use reputable trekking companies with professional guides. You should not trek alone.

Special regulations apply to mountaineering expeditions and all expedition members are required to have permits. Australians wishing to climb in Nepal should seek information either through reputable trekking companies in Nepal or Australia or from the Nepalese Embassy (Canberra) or Consulates-General in Australia (Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney).

Before departing on a trek you should seek an update from your trekking company on the security situation and likely climatic conditions in the area you intend to visit. You should register on the Smartraveller website and advise family or friends where you intend to trek. Information about trail conditions and possible hazards in the northern regions can be obtained from the Himalayan Rescue Association. Telephone +977 1 444 0292 or +977 1 444 0293. Email: hra@mail.com.np.

The Government of Nepal has authorised the Trekking Agency Association of Nepal (TAAN) and the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) to implement a system for foreign trekkers called the Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS). Trekkers, including those not travelling with organised groups, are required to have a valid TIMS card issued by TAAN, its member agencies, or NTB. In case of an emergency, the system will help authorities ascertain the whereabouts of trekkers. TIMS cards are available through authorised trekking companies, TAAN offices in Kathmandu or Pokhara and the NTB office in Kathmandu.

Landmines and improvised explosive devices remain a danger in many parts of Nepal, including some trekking areas. You should seek advice from local authorities before trekking, observe all warning signs and follow clearly identified tracks.

When planning a trek, you should ensure you have adequate travel insurance to cover emergency evacuation by helicopter or other means.

The safety standards you might expect of transport and tour operators, including adventure activities such as rafting, may not be of the same level as in Australia. Sufficient safety equipment may not be provided and recommended maintenance standards and safety precautions may not be observed. Carefully check the operator's credentials beforehand and ensure that your insurance policy covers you for all activities that you undertake. Always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if the locals don't. If appropriate safety equipment is not available, you should use another provider.

Neighbouring Tibet

Generally, only travellers in organised tour groups are issued visas and permits for the Tibetan region of China. Australians considering travel to Tibet should check the travel advice for China for up-to-date information. Contact the nearest Embassy of the People's Republic of China before travelling to the Tibetan region of China. If you are in Nepal, you should contact the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Kathmandu.

Airline safety

In February 2014, a Nepal Airlines plane crashed in western Nepal, killing all 18 people on board. In recent years, a number of small aircraft travelling domestically have crashed, with some accidents causing multiple fatalities, including international travellers. These crashes have occurred on a number of domestic carriers.

Due to safety concerns, all airlines certified by Nepalese regulatory authorities have been banned from operating in European airspace.

Nepal’s only international airport, Tribhuvan International Airport, has a single runway that services both domestic and international flights. Domestic flight cancellations and delays occur frequently, especially during the tourist season when the airport is crowded, and have caused travellers to miss international connections.

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in the Nepal.

Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

You are subject to the local laws of Nepal, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you’re arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

Penalties for drug offences are severe in Nepal. Tourists caught in possession of even small quantities could be convicted and imprisoned. See our Drugs page.

Surrogacy in Nepal: The legal situation concerning surrogacy in Nepal remains unclear. The Australian Government strongly recommends that commissioning parents not consider surrogacy in Nepal unless and until appropriate arrangements are in place. Currently there are no arrangements in place in Nepal for the collection of DNA samples and the processes to establish proof of identity for a child born through surrogacy arrangements, and to provide recognition of legal parentage, remain unclear. As of April 2015 Nepali surrogacy guidelines and legislation were still being considered. Australians should seek independent legal advice regarding these matters. Australians are also encouraged to contact the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIPB) office at Australia’s High Commission in New Delhi (+91 11 4122 1000 or Citizenship.NewDelhi@dfat.gov.au) to discuss options under Australian migration and citizenship legislation. You should also see our Overseas births, adoptions and surrogacies page for further information on surrogacy.

In response to increased crime in Thamel, the main tourist district of Kathmandu, bars and restaurants are required by law to close at 11pm. Travellers should take care of their belongings and observe closing times.

It is illegal to take photographs or video images of army barracks, check points and military personnel.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Nepal, however incidents of harassment of LGBTI people have been reported. See our LGBTI travellers page.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Local customs

Dress codes are relaxed in tourist areas of Kathmandu, but more modest attire is recommended when travelling in other parts of the country. You should take care not to offend.

Information for dual nationals

Nepal does not recognise dual nationality. This may limit our ability to provide consular assistance to Australian/Nepalese dual nationals who are arrested or detained. We strongly recommend that you travel on your Australian passport at all times.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Medical facilities in Nepal are very limited, particularly outside Kathmandu. In Kathmandu, treatment at international clinics is expensive and up-front cash payment for services is generally required. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate facilities would be necessary. Medical evacuation costs would be considerable. If you are trekking or mountaineering, you should ensure your travel insurance covers you for helicopter evacuation from mountainous regions.

Malaria is a risk in Nepal's Terai and Hill districts and Chitwan National Park. Other mosquito-borne diseases (including dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis) also occur, including in some areas of Kathmandu. We recommend you consult your doctor before travelling about malaria prophylaxis and vaccination against Japanese encephalitis. You shouldtake precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes, including using insect repellent, wearing long, loose-fitting, light coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including typhoid, cholera, hepatitis, leptospirosis and rabies) are common, with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. HIV/AIDS is also prevalent. It is advisable to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Travellers who ascend to altitudes greater than 2500m, particularly if the ascent is rapid, are at risk of developing altitude sickness. Altitude sickness can be life threatening and can affect anyone, even the physically fit. Those at greater risk include people who have had altitude sickness before, who exercise or drink alcohol before adjusting to the altitude, or who have health problems that affect breathing. If you plan to travel to altitude, you should see your doctor beforehandfor advice specific to you and your situation.

Highly contagious eye problems such as conjunctivitis are common after the monsoon season.

Where to get help

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24 hour emergency number.

For criminal issues, contact the Tourist Police in Kathmandu on +977 1 470 0750, or the Tourist Police headquarters on +977 1 424 7041. You should obtain a police report when reporting a crime.

To complain about tourism services, contact the service provider directly. You may also lodge a complaint with the Nepal Tourism Board.

The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can’t do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, see contact details below:

Australian Embassy, Kathmandu

500 metres north of Narayan Gopal Chowk
Bansbari, Kathmandu
Telephone: (+977 1) 437 1678
Facsimile: (+977 1) 437 1533
Website: www.nepal.embassy.gov.au/

See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Embassy, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Natural Disasters, Severe Weather and Climate

A further major earthquake of magnitude 7.3 struck on 12 May 2015, followed by a number of aftershocks of magnitude 5 and above. The epicentre was located 76km north-east of Kathmandu in the Dolakha District. More aftershocks are expected. You should follow the instructions of local authorities and check with your airline, tour operator or hotel for latest information on disruptions.

On 25 April 2015, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal. The epicentre was 80 kms west of Kathmandu. Extensive damage occurred to buildings, including in Kathmandu and Pokhara, and avalanches occured in the Macchaputre and Everest regions. There were a large number of deaths and injuries. There is ongoing disruption to telecommunications, transport and tourist infrastructure in affected areas.

Nepal is in a highly active earthquake region and earthquakes and tremors are common. In the event of a major earthquake, there is likely to be loss of life, widespread damage and severe disruptions to essential services. Australians travelling and residing in Nepal are encouraged to be prepared for an earthquake by ensuring they have emergency stocks, including water, on hand. See our earthquakes bulletin for advice on travelling to and living in an earthquake-prone region.

On 18 September 2011, an earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale struck the north-eastern Indian state of Sikkim, which borders Nepal. It caused damage and a number of deaths in Nepal and affected transportation routes, telecommunications, and power water, and food supplies.

Landslides and flooding can occur throughout the year, but are more frequent during the monsoon season (June to September). Avalanches can also occur.

In the event of major natural disasters, there are likely to be severe disruptions to transport, damage to essential infrastructure, food shortages and health issues. Australian travellers should avoid unnecessary travel to the affected regions.

Further information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

Additional Resources

For other useful information to assist travelling in this country, see:



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.